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U.S. EPA settles lead paint disclosure case with San Jose landlord

Release Date: 6/20/2005
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez: (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Jose landlord has agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $15,393 and perform lead abatement work valued at $138,539 for violating federal lead paint disclosure requirements at 72 rental units in the cities of San Jose and Cupertino, Calif.

The EPA alleges that Allen Wong failed to include a lead warning statement in leases for the 72 units, a statement of his knowledge about lead-based paint in the units, an identification of any records available regarding lead-based paint in the units, affirmations by the lessee of the receipt of the disclosure information, and signatures and dates of Mr.Wong and his lessees certifying the accuracy of their statements. These failures resulted in 292 violations of federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements.

As part of the settlement, Mr.Wong will conduct lead inspections and risk assessments and perform lead abatement work where hazards are found in 21 rental units in San Jose. The EPA selected specific rental units that house or will soon house children age six and under, or units that are older housing. If funds remain after addressing hazards at these units, Mr.Wong will address lead hazards at additional units he owns. He cooperated with federal prosecutors during the investigation and subsequent settlement talks.

"The EPA's goal is to ensure that renters and buyers receive adequate information necessary to protect public health, especially childrens' health, from potential lead-based paint hazards," said Enrique Manzanilla, the director of the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "As a result of this settlement, Mr.Wong will test for and abate lead hazards in these apartment units, making them lead-safe for children."

An estimated three-quarters of the U.S. housing stock built before 1978 contains some lead-based paint. Lead-based paint endangers the health of American children in as many as 4 million homes. Lead poisoning in children can have serious, long-term consequences including intelligence deficiencies, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, hyperactivity and/or behavioral problems.

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act helps prevent exposure -- especially the exposure of children -- to hazards from lead-based paint by requiring disclosure and notification when selling or leasing applicable housing. Children under six years of age are among the most vulnerable population to adverse health risks from lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards such as dust and contaminated soil.

Federal law requires that persons and entities who sell or rent housing built before 1978 must:

* provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet;
* include lead notification language in sales and rental forms;
* disclose any known lead-based paint hazards and provide reports to buyers or renters;
* allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and
* maintain records certifying compliance with applicable federal requirements for three years.

For additional information on lead in paint, dust and soil, see: